For fans of the blockbuster Star Wars series, swinging a lightsaber around the backyard was probably a fond childhood memory.
Now, thanks to the progression of technology and a burgeoning local combat community, some Bay Area fans get to learn to fight like their favorite characters.
"As a kid you throw around a lightsaber, playing around with it. As an adult, you find something like this, and it’s like you’ve found it," says Michael Masangkay about finding lightsaber combat classes. "It’s just a pure joy, a pure enthusiasm. And it’s very infectious."
Masangkay is an instructor at LudoSport in San Francisco, one of several places in the Bay Area that teaches kids and adults how to use a lightsaber, or rather, the closest option they can get to the real thing. The sabers used in these classes aren't something someone can pick up at a store. They're made to be durable and safe to fight with, and they can usually only be found online.
"The technology has gotten a lot simpler, and it’s a lot easier for someone to actually build their own lightsaber than it was 10 years ago," says Erich Bitonia, who builds his own lightsabers and uses them at lightsaber combat classes in the South Bay. "What's cooler than walking around with a lightsaber?"